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Mourning in Budapest

Chapter One



Lucas Hamilton stood in the shadows on the corner of Peterdy Útca and Muanyi Útca, looking up at number 25 Peterdy, a classic baroque building in the grand style of the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire. It saddened Lucas to look at its ornate architectural details, so reminiscent of his own family home on 45 Andrássey Útca.He had gone to visit his home as soon as he had arrived in Budapest, his head full of warm, wonderful memories of his childhood in that house—the gentle sound of his mother at the piano; sitting in the kitchen, eating warm muffins and watching as Maya, the cook, kneaded bread; the mystery and magic of sneaking down the stairs to peek through the door at the adults as they sat in the large parlor drinking wine and talking about people and places that sounded strange and enchanting; the smell of cigars and leather as his father worked at the grand empire-period desk in his study—until it all came tumbling down one terrible afternoon when the devil, in the form of the valet László Farkas, shot his father dead in full view of him and his mother.


That was 17 years ago, when he was Lukács Károlyi, son of Alexandra and Count Milan Károlyi de Nagykárolyi.  A lot had changed since then. The Communists came and drove the Nazis out, replacing one horror with another. His beloved home at 45 Andrássey Útca had been bombed to pieces, and now stood like the blackened remains of a decayed tooth between the rows of intact buildings on either side of it. Gazing at it, the thought came to him that perhaps God had struck the building with lightening to purify the evil that had been perpetuated there.  It was there that he watched as Farkas entered his father’s study and shot him dead; there where he watched as his mother fell to her knees and cradled her dying husband in her arms; there where he stared, frozen in terror, as Farkas turned the gun on him, and fired. He did not die that day, at least not outwardly, but something—some small part of his inner being—had been carried away with the bullet that sped by his ear.
       And now he stood on the corner of Peterdy and Muanyi, hiding in the dark, waiting for the light in apartment 3B to go out so he could walk across the street and kill Josef Németh, the man who lived in apartment 3B.

Lucas was neither and assassin nor a sadistic killer. He had killed before, mostly in self-defense or in the defense of others, but on two occasions, he had killed because the targets were evil men who deserved to die. These men he had killed without hesitation and without remorse. One was his father’s killer, László Farkas, and the other was The Director, Cornelis Bos, a Russian agent responsible for hundreds of deaths as a World War Two double agent and as the mastermind behind every Russian-planned assassination since then. Josef Németh, like Farkas and Bos, deserved to die, and Lucas would not lose any sleep over killing him.

It was a bitter night in Budapest. A cold wind came off the Danube, blowing flakes of sleet into his eyes, and chilling him even through his heavy winter coat. He squinted against the sleet as he looked up at the third floor corner apartment where Josef Németh ate his goulash, listened to the radio, and prepared for his final night’s sleep. It was risky. The secret police were always patrolling the streets, looking for ‘dissidents’ and ‘traitors’. Lucas would have a difficult time explaining his presence on the street at this late hour. It would be even more difficult to explain the holster and the Makarov with the initials LSJ on the stock that nestled comfortably in it.


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